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bare witnessing

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What’s the point of meditation? Where does it lead, what do I get from it? I thought it would help me relax, see things more clearly, become more ‘spiritual.’ But when I try to meditate, all I get is a bunch of thoughts and images: one long daydream. What’s the point of THAT?

I hear you! Don’t fret … you’re actually on the right track. Listen to what Ken Wilber has to say–he has investigated just about every approach to meditation and spiritual practice.

“When you practice meditation, one of the first things you realize is that your mind–and your life, for that matter–is dominated by largely subconscious verbal chatter. You are always talking to yourself. And so, as they start to meditate, people are stunned by how much junk starts running through their awareness. They find that thoughts, images, fantasies, notions, ideas, concepts virtually dominate their awareness. They realize that these notions have had a much more profound influence on their lives than they ever thought.

“In any case, initial meditation experiences are like being at the movies. You sit and watch all these notions and fantasies parade by, in front of your awareness. But the whole point is that you’re finally becoming aware of them. You are looking at them impartially and without judgement. You just watch them go by, just as you watch clouds float by in the sky. They come, they go. No praise, no condemnation, no judgments, just “bare witnessing.” If you judge your thoughts, if you get caught up in them, then you can’t transcend them. You can’t find higher or subtler dimensions of your own being.

“So you sit in meditation, and you simply “witness” what is going on in your mind. You let the monkey mind do what it wants, and you simply watch.”

source: “Stages of meditation: an interview with Ken Wilber.” The Quest. Spring 1994, pp. 43-46. See also “monkey mind” post of Wednesday, October 21.


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